The Importance of Building an Engaged Community Around Your Content Site
When trying to grow your brand, it’s not enough to simply talk at your audience.
You need to talk with them. Present information in a way that invites communication, participation, and engagement. Start conversations and encourage them to converse with one another.
This can go on to build something extraordinary around your business …
A true sense of community.
And when content drives your site, an engaged community will ultimately help you spread the word about your brand and the great information it’s sharing. But that’s not the only reason you should look into creating a community around your content site.
Let’s take a closer look at why online communities are vital to content sites and, more importantly, how to create your own.
But first …
What do we mean by online community?
When we talk about building an engaged community around your content site, what are we actually referring to? We’re talking about a regular audience that not only consumes your content but also regularly interacts with it.
Let’s say you’re running a blog associated with your company.
In it, you offer practical non-sales tips that aim to solve your target audience’s pain points. An engaged community would comment on those posts, interact with you and one another, ask questions, answer questions other users contribute, and share their own experiences.
That’s awesome. But you can take the concept of community even further.
For instance, you could create a Facebook discussion group where you can interact more directly. When a group is public, Facebook sometimes even recommends posts to non-members, spreading your content further and attracting new members to your community.(Image Source)
This group can be a space where customers can post questions and share experiences with you and one another freely. You can post content links there, and your members will share them with followers, hopefully adding to your thriving community.
You can also achieve this by using a resource message board in the help section of your website. Though social media makes it far easier for the community to interact more regularly and share content with others.
So, when we say “engaged community,” we’re talking about a group of like-minded members of your target audience who follow you, regularly consume your site’s content, and converse with you and one another.
It becomes its own self-contained community, where users become familiar with one another and work together to solve problems, socialize, and share experiences.
Why are online communities so vital to content sites?
Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons online communities are crucial to content sites.
Takes the burden off support personnel
When customers can communicate with one another and ask questions in public, your community can step in as a form of free user-generated customer support.
If someone in the community asks a question that might otherwise go to a member of your support staff, you can either interact with them directly or let the other members of the community field the question.
In a community like this, peers share their experiences and support one another. Of course, you’ll need to monitor the comments to ensure that the solutions offered are accurate.
This, in turn, takes the burden off your customer support personnel.
If members of your community support one another through posts and comments on social media or a blog post, you’ll have fewer calls coming into support. That means shorter hold times and increased bandwidth for support staffers.
Direct pipeline to customers
Your engaged community represents an opportunity to communicate with customers directly.
This is a golden opportunity to showcase your knowledge, empathy, and overall effectiveness. You’re applying a voice, and sometimes even a face, to what would otherwise be a faceless organization.
What’s more, you can offer very specific products and services to your audience, and instead of it coming from a meaningless corporate ad, it’ll come from a source they already know and trust.
For example, let’s say you run a cooking blog called Great Food and More, where you share simple, tasty recipes busy readers can whip up in a flash.
Once you’ve cultivated a strong connection with your community and learned what they value most, you can use their feedback to create new, personalized products and services. In this case, that might be online cooking classes, recipe guides, cookbooks, jarred sauces, and boxed mixes.
Boost website traffic
Another key benefit of an engaged community centered around a content website is that you can use it to direct traffic to your site — consistently. For example, let’s say you have an engaged Facebook gaming community that’s joined a new group you’ve set up to discuss popular YUPLAY video games.
When you publish new content to your gaming blog, you can share it with your group in a post.
By selecting @everyone, you’ll also be able to alert all group members simultaneously, ensuring they have the best chance to see it. They can then click on your link, boosting your website traffic. Some might even share the content with followers, opening you up to even more traffic.
Once they’re on your site, you can also install a pop-up or add a CTA banner to grab their email address in case they haven’t joined your newsletter yet.
Provide social proof to customers
Social proof is a vital piece of the marketing puzzle.
If you’re trying to drive your engaged community toward conversion, remember it helps to see others in similar situations. By noting how your products or services have improved peers’ lives, community members may feel more motivated to take a chance on you and finally make a purchase.
What’s more, in an engaged community, members get to know one another. So, they’re getting social proof from a trusted peer instead of betting on the words of a stranger.
Source of user-generated content
User-generated content is another way to demonstrate social proof in your marketing and advertising efforts.
And luckily, an engaged community often generates useful content. This might be photos, videos, or even posts about your services and what they’ve helped the user accomplish.
You can then contact these users privately and ask them to use their content as part of your company messaging. Additionally, you could ask certain dedicated members of your community to record or write reviews of your services or products that you can then include on the website.
If they’re truly engaged and invested in your success, they should agree, no problem. In fact, they might take some pride in seeing their words used as part of a marketing campaign and sharing it with followers.
User-generated content is always highly trusted, and you can appeal to potential customers using this vital piece of social proof.
How can you create a community around your content site?
Now that we’ve covered why building an engaged community is important, it’s time to talk about how you can go about forging one of your own.
Create useful content
If you want to attract an audience that’ll engage with you and form a community around your brand, you need to ensure that the content you’re creating is high quality and useful for the audience you’re trying to attract.
For instance, if you own a software company, starting a SaaS blog can be an effective tool for building an engaged community around your product. By creating valuable and informative content, you can use your blog to attract a loyal following of users interested in your know-how — and, eventually, the solution you’re selling.
Focus on publishing tutorials, how-to guides, and best practices. By offering this type of content, your blog can help users better understand your offering, leading to greater user adoption and engagement.
Additionally, creating easily shareable content can help you attract community members and enlist them in bringing in others. If someone finds value in your offering, they’ll share it with those they trust and care about. This will bring even more people to your content who’ll hopefully find just as much value and engage.
Identify SEO trends
Appeal to your audience directly, providing exactly what they want to see. That means if you’re a home improvement blog and notice that bathroom renovation tips are rising in popularity, you should focus your content there and optimize everything for search using SEO best practices.
This will ensure that you are creating content people need and that they’ll be able to find it.
SEO tools can play a significant role in helping websites build and engage with their online communities. Using these tools, website owners can improve their search engine rankings, drive more traffic, and create a more engaged community of followers.
SEO tools work by analyzing a website’s content and identifying keywords and phrases that are relevant to the audience. By incorporating these keywords into the content, website owners can improve their search engine rankings and attract more visitors to the site.
Focus on a specific topic
One way to build a strong community around your content site is to focus on a specific niche or topic.
For example, in the Healthcare space, a great topic would be discussing the benefits of having an online doctor. By creating content tailored to the interests and needs of your audience, you can attract readers who are passionate about the subject matter and more likely to engage with your site.
This, again, boils down to a strong understanding of your audience. That includes who they are, what they do, and — most importantly — what they want.
Let’s say you’re creating content specifically geared toward students applying to college. Because students are always hungry for more information on how they can get more out of their experience, focusing on topics related to these experiences and answering questions students in this scenario might help you create your community.
For example, if students are regularly asking, “Do you have to pay back a pell grant?” or “How do scholarships work?” You can provide those answers and leave room for them to comment and ask questions.
There are also sub-niches within all industries.
For example, let’s say you’re a dietician running a health and wellness blog. If you’re getting a lot of questions about the Keto diet, you should focus your efforts there and provide answers to Keto-related FAQs.
Consider offering free Keto recipes, wellness tips, and downloadable guides every week on your blog and in your newsletter. You might even go as far as offering specialized Keto nutrition coaching.
As always, don’t forget to share your new content with your community on social so you can spark even more conversations.
When trying to attract a regular audience that can eventually become a community, you must be consistent with content generation.
For this example, let’s assume you’re a travel agent specializing in Disney vacations. To form a community around your business, you decide to create a podcast that offers families planning tips and tricks that they can use for their next vacation.
This is a perfect opportunity to build a community around your business. People listen to podcasts regularly, so adhering to a regular weekly schedule will be important when trying to grow the audience and engage with them on social media.
If your loyal community knows your podcast releases every Wednesday at 7 am, they’ll make your new episode a regular part of their Wednesday routine.
For this reason, the more they listen to you, the more they’ll form a relationship with you and your Podcast.
Creating more trust and engagement will also help you overcome objections in sales and spread the word about your business.
Again, posting content regularly and actively engaging with your audience is paramount when building a community.
When in doubt, follow this approach:
- Publish your blog content.
- Repurpose snippets of your blog content across social media and in your community channels, such as in Facebook groups and podcast episodes.
- Share a snippet of your blog with your newsletter subscribers.
To make this process as efficient as possible, use automation tools, such as Wordable.io to save time staging and publishing your articles, a free social media scheduler to help you batch content across your social channels, and an email marketing tool, like ActiveCampaign, to help you set up automated email campaigns.
Engagement builds communities, and communities create brand loyalty, user-generated content, increased website traffic, and more. That’s why it’s imperative to focus on forming an engaged community around your brand’s content marketing strategy.
By following the tips and tricks we shared today, you’ll be able to bring your audience together and create a community that’ll stand the test of time.
Here’s to your success!